Browse Month: April 2016

Judging Matthew 7 1-6

Church of Christ Bible LessonRead Matt 7:1-6

There are many who have taken the first part of this passage and tried to say that we cannot make any judgments about anyone. It is true that the Bible says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and that if we claim to be without sin, that we deceive ourselves (1John 1:8). So if we have all sinned, on what basis are we to sit in judgment on another?

Paul points out – Rom 2:21-22 “you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” What Paul is teaching in the passage is what Jesus is saying in the passage in Matthew – if we judge someone else to be guilty when we are doing the same things, then we are condemning ourselves.

Jesus said that we should ‘Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.’ (John7:24) It is easy to judge someone based on their appearance or on preconceived notions. But this very instruction by Christ implies that we MUST make judgments.

We are told to use the right standards when we judge (James 2:2-4) Remember that it took a vision from God to convince Peter that it was acceptable for him to go preach to a Gentile for the first time. (Acts 10) and later he had to explain this to the Jewish believers back in Jerusalem who questioned his actions (Acts 11).

Some presume that all judging is wrong, but that is not the case. Jesus told us to make judgments that are right and based on evidence. Matt 7:15-16 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will know them.” And we are warned in 1John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How can we watch out for false teachers if we cannot make judgments about them? The question is not whether or not to make judgments, but rather what standard is to be used in making them.

Acts 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” That is the standard on which we are to base our judgment – the word of God. Jesus told us that it was to be the final authority –John 12:48. If we use the words of the Bible as the basis for our decisions about ourselves and others, and do not hold others to a different standard than we do ourselves, then our judgment will be right. It will not be us making the judgment, but God – and His judgment is always correct!

church of Christ in Cincinnati Ohio

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Types of Givers

Church of Christ Bible LessonsFlint

To get anything from flint, you have to hammer away at it. And even then, you only get sparks. It gives nothing away if it can help it, and if it does- it is with a great display.

Sponge

To get anything from the sponge, you have to squeeze it. It is good natured, yields to pressure, and gives more, the more it is squeezed. Still, it must be squeezed.

Honeycomb To get anything from the honeycomb, one takes what flows naturally from it. It gives freely, without pressure or begging or badgering. Unlike the others, the honeycomb is connected to life. It is constantly being renewed.

Those who are like the honeycomb give because they are aware their lives are constantly being regenerated and their resources being replenished as they are given away. Prov 19:17, Matt 10:42, James 1:17, 2Cor 8:1-5, 12-15 When we are connected to the Lord, the giver of all things, we can never run dry..We will receive in the same manner in which we give – 2 Cor 9:6 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, but whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

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Seeking Treasure

Church of Christ Bible StudyMatt 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy , and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In the East, a man’s wealth consisted of fine, costly garments, stores of grain, gold, silver, jewelry, or fine furnishings. All of these would be tempting to insects or thieves and are difficult to preserve. Jesus taught His disciples that real wealth is not found in physical things – Luke 12:15.

Jesus is not saying not to lay up treasures, but rather to lay them up in the place where they will hold their value. The heart and a person’s treasure are inseparable. Whatever we place a high value on, we will spend our time and energy on. As Christians, we are to have a different value system than that of our neighbors. Mark 8:36-37 points out that the most valuable possession we have is our soul. That is where our priority must be !

So how do we ‘lay up treasures in heaven’? The only way is to send them on ahead. (1 Tim 6:17-19) And in Matt 10:42, Jesus tells us that we get a reward for even the giving of a cup of cool water. We are just the stewards of the things of this earth – they all belong to God. But a steward who uses his master’s goods for his own benefit is not a good steward. The ones who are rewarded are those who use the good to gain more for the master – Matt 25:20-21 We need to use what we have in this life wisely, to benefit and glorify God, in order to gain treasures that will last through eternity.

Are you buying quality merchandise; building up treasures that will last forever ? One day this world and all that is in it will be burned up – 2Pet 3:9-11 “The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be ?”

Will your treasures be secure in heaven on that great day ?

This devotional provided by Arlinton church of Christ in Cincinnati, OH

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Make the Effort

Make an Effort
Make an Effort
Of all the people that you have met, who would you consider to be the most important? While those we contact in this life may have a special place in our lives, the ultimate privilege that we have as Christians is to know the all-powerful creator of the universe. He alone can give us the security and peace of an eternal life. Paul recognized the greatness of this relationship when he wrote in:

Phil 3:8-11 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I might gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

More than anything, Paul wanted to know all he could about Christ. Yet many today live as unbelievers, missing the blessings of being in Christ and destined for an eternity in hell. Some never know God because they have never heard the gospel, while others have heard but are simply not interested. Still others try to ‘discover’ God in nature or art or other physical pursuits, but no one can know God without knowing his Son Jesus. (John 14:7-10)

But knowing God involves a price, and many are not willing to pay the cost. Some are baptized, but then drift back into the world because they are not willing to devote the time, prayer, and study that it takes to really know God. The scripture says they are worse off in this state than they were at the beginning. (2Peter 2:20-21) The disciples spent almost every minute with Jesus for three years and yet they didn’t fully understand all he was teaching them. Why should we think that spending a few minutes once a week will allow us to know God? It takes time to communicate, and it takes effort to learn all we can about the Lord.

Heb 10:23-25 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Will you make the effort to know Christ? Will you spur someone else to learn more about Christ?

Arlington church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio

Acapella singing in the church

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Judging Fairly Matthew Chapter 7 1-5

Judging Fairly
Judging Fairly
Matt 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye. How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ ,when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye
.”
Jesus is appealing to the highest ideals of the rabbis. The Jewish rabbis taught that there were six great ‘works’ in this life: studying the scriptures, visiting the sick, showing hospitality, prayer, educating children in the law, and thinking the best of others. Think of how often you have misjudged others or been misjudged by them. Our judgment of others is faulty because we do not know all the situations, background, and especially their motives -1Cor 2:11. We know what they did, but not WHY they did it. We may not know the facts they faced, or the strength of a particular temptation.

It is impossible for us to be completely impartial in our judgments. We are swayed by attraction or repulsion by certain people. The Greeks would sometimes hold difficult trials in total darkness, so the defendant could not be seen or recognized, and only the facts considered. Only one who is totally impartial has the right to judge, and since none but God is impartial, only He can make right judgments.

Jesus is teaching that no one has the right to judge or criticize another unless he is prepared to do better in the same situation. Please note that Jesus is not condemning all evaluations of whether an action is right or wrong. What He is condemning is the hypocritical evaluation of others. We are told to discipline the erring brother – 1Cor 5. That requires that an evaluation be made of actions, but it is not being made on the basis of our own thoughts, but on the comparison to God’s standard of conduct for us in His word. If we use His word, then He is judging – not us – and His judgment is just. We cannot condemn others, but we can condemn their actions when they violate the word of God. That is the duty of Christians – to apply the words of the Bible to the things we see happening around us and speak out in defense of God and His standards. We can ‘judge’ properly if we use His judgments, not our own or those of society. We are to try to help others live in harmony with God’s will by pointing out what He expects. But we must also apply those same principles and laws to our own lives. Let us examine our own lives first in the mirror of God’s word. James 1:23-25.

Gospel Lesson by the Arlington Church of Christ Located in Cincinnati, Ohio

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Name It, Claim It

Bible Scripture TruthThere are those who teach that if one has enough faith , they can ‘claim’ God’s promise to give us whatever we ask for in prayer. They use verses like mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Does the Bible teach that we can have anything we want as long as we believe it strongly enough? Is God presented as a genie who will magically grant our wishes if we just have enough faith?

Verses such as Mark 11:24 and Matt 21:22 follow the accounts of the disciples having witnessed a miraculous act done by Christ. They marvel and Jesus tells them that they too can do great things if they have enough faith. This is what James is describing in James 1:5-8. The lesson is that God will not answer a prayer offered in doubt or insincerity, not that God will give us anything. Note what the following scriptures say about the ‘requirements’ of acceptable prayer:

James 4:2-3 “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures.” Our requests must be made with the proper motives.

John 14:13-14 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Our requests must be something that will bring glory to God, not just comfort or pleasure for us.

1John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” In order to receive what we ask for, the request must be made in accordance to God’s will. (Remember Jesus’ prayer in the garden –‘Not my will, but yours be done’)

John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you what you ask in my name.” In order to receive our requests, we must be bearing the fruit that He commanded us to bear. This is why God granted the requests of Jesus – Heb 5:7. God heard the prayers of Jesus because He was always doing the Father’s will.

Even Jesus did not always receive what He asked for. In the garden, Jesus prayed three times for another way – He ‘named it’, but God did not give His Son what He asked for. Instead, God gave Jesus what He needed – Luke 22:43. Jesus turned the request over to God – Your will, not mine be done. The same is required of us as we come to God in prayer. We turn our requests over to His will and He will give us the peace we need to deal with the answer we receive – Phil 4:6-7. Understanding that God is in charge and loves us and gives us what we need when we obey Him and follow His word will allow us to be content whatever answer he gives to our prayers. Phil 4:11-13 Do you have that contentment?

Arlington Church of Christ in Cincinnati Ohio shared this devotional lesson. Thank you.

Church of Christ Acapella Singing

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New Authority

New Authority
New Authority
Read Matt 5:21-48. When Jesus would teach, He would often use the phrase “but I say to you …” indicating that He had the authority to explain the true intent of God’s law. The people were amazed when He spoke – Mark 1:22. The law was read every Sabbath in the synagogue. The scrolls were carried around so everyone could see and touch them – they knew what they said. Jesus came to correct the misconceptions of the ‘teachers of the law’ who tried to explain the scriptures to the people. No wonder people questioned His authority – either He was the Son of God or He was a madman. When Jesus spoke, it was always with authority, and He never sought to justify Himself or prove that He had the right to teach. What were Jesus’ credentials?

-Perfect knowledge –Col 2:2 – He knew both man and God perfectly
-Authority from God – John 1:1-2
-His works – John 14:11
-Fulfilled scripture – John 5:39
-His God-given position as head of the church – Eph 1:22-23

Jesus amazed people with His ‘new teachings’. He not only taught that it was wrong to commit murder, but that it was wrong to stay angry with your brother. Or that it was as wrong to have the desire for adultery in your heart as it was to commit the physical act. Jesus stressed that it wasn’t enough just to refrain from evil, but that one should remove even the evil thoughts from their mind. The world said that a man is ‘good’ if he never ‘does’ the wrong thing, but Jesus taught that ‘goodness’ involves purity of heart and spirit as well as body. The people were amazed.

And Jesus knew that we can never cleanse ourselves. Reason may tell us that something is wrong, will power may temporarily hold us back – but desire is a beast that will one day break free of our control. Only Jesus has the means to bring it under His permanent control. This requires something on our part :

-submit to Christ and dethrone self – Luke 9:23
-respond in love to His love for us – 1 John 4:19
-sow pure thoughts and actions – Gal 6:7-8

Too often, people seek instant spirituality. They want some stunning, irresistible experience – but Christian maturity is the result of patiently sowing the right seed and letting it grow into a harvest of righteousness. Are you willing to follow the Lord in both thought and actions? Will you make the effort to learn of Him by studying His word? John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”

This devotional brought to you by Arlington Church of Christ located in Cincinnati, OH.

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No Doubts

Church of Christ Words of GodWe hear of earthquakes, tsunamis, suicide bombers, wars, diseases, and all kinds of problems happening in our world and some begin to wonder – where is God in all this? How can we answer those who doubt God’s power and sovereignty? There are even some ‘religious leaders’ who have expressed doubts about God’s ability or willingness to respond. What can we learn about things like this from the life of Jesus?

Jesus never doubted the goodness or the power of God when confronting evils here on the earth. (Mark 9:21-24) He expressed compassion for people and confidence in the power of God to deal with the situation. He faced questions about things that happened: Luke 13:1-4 “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you. No! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’” Jesus said that God was not punishing some people by having some disaster happen to them, but that we should recognize that this type of thing will happen in this world and that we should use it as a call to repent and return to God.

We are told to expect evils in this life – Luke 21:10-12, 16, 26. But perhaps the most shocking thing Jesus told His disciples was –John 16:1-2 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue: in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” (Sound like the jihadist today?) And yet there is not a flicker of doubt in Jesus as to the goodness and sovereignty of God. He was concerned with helping those who would follow Him maintain faith in the time of evil. –Luke 21:28

This is not the time for weakening faith, but for unwavering hope. As ambassadors for Christ to a world that does not understand the consequences of sin, we need to offer hope in God through Jesus Christ, not just sympathy for victims. It does no good for people to get angry at God or question why – and we cannot offer hope if we harbor doubts ourselves. James 1:2-7 Remember that even from the evils in this world, God can bring good- and hope to those who trust Him. (Rom 8:28)

Arlington Church of Christ located in Cincinnati, OH 45231

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